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With all the brouhaha surrounding the Minis in the upper echelons of the range it’s easy to forget about the One, the 1.4-litre entry-level model. This is a shame, for in pure driving terms it’s possible to have just as much fun in the unassuming base model as it is in those costing half as much again. In fact, we reckon the £11,625 One gives the £13,025 Cooper a real run for its money.
Naturally, there are the numerous option packs available, some of which you feel obliged to have on the high-grade models, but you can ignore them all here. Our test car came with the ‘Pepper’ pack, for example, but it’s £1315 you don’t need to spend. Even the five-spoke alloys it brings to the party you can do without – the standard 15in steelies have a retro coolness to them and are wrapped in exactly the same 175/65 rubber.
Those narrow tyres result in delicate steering feel with plenty of clarity at the helm and plenty of adjustability on the road. The power-to-grip ratio is so well matched that it’s possible to spin up the front wheels if you get greedy with the throttle in a tight turn, while the absence of low-profile rubber means the One rides beautifully, bumps being soaked up effortlessly.
The 94bhp motor never feels sluggish and has six gears to keep it all on the boil. It may be all over at 115mph, but it’s rare to find yourself wishing for more when accelerating through the gears.
When all’s said and done, it’s hard to knock the One. It’s an honest, no-frills tool that delivers on all levels. So unless you’re after a full-blown hot hatch, our advice is to keep it cheap and keep it cheerful. After all, it’s the way Minis used to be.
|Engine||In-line 4-cyl, 1397cc|
|Max power||94bhp @ 6000rpm|
|Max torque||103lb ft @ 4000rpm|
|Top speed||115mph (claimed)|